Zimbabwe sends 30 wild-caught baby elephants to Chinese zoos

Baby elephants at Hwange National Park, photo: Humane Society International
Baby elephants at Hwange National Park, photo: Humane Society International

Zimbabwe has exported around 30 wild-caught baby elephants to Chinese zoos. According to Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (ZNSPCA) the babies were removed on Thursday from the Zimparks Game Capture unit located in Hwange National Park.

Last week ZNSPCA inspectors tried gaining access to Zimparks to check on the babies, but they were denied access: “There is a high degree of secrecy and lack of transparency surrounding this particular shipment of young elephants. Our sources tell us that some of these elephants were loaded into crates and driven to Victoria Falls Airport on Thursday.”

ZNSPCA, Humane Society International/Africa and other organizations tried stopping the transportation of the baby elephants, but were shocked by the news they were on their way to China.

International ban
Taking African baby elephants from the wild and selling them to zoos has been banned in August by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The new ruling will be effective on the 26th of November. Campaigners say it looks like Zimbabwe is trying to quickly sell some babies before the ban is official.

“Zimbabwe is showing total disregard for the spirit of the CITES ruling as well as ignoring local and global criticism. We and others have been working for months to try and stop these elephants being shipped because all that awaits them in China is a life of monotonous deprivation in zoos or circuses,” said Audrey Delsink, wildlife director for HSI/Africa.

According to CITES, Zimbabwe has sent more than 100 baby elephants to China since 2012, leaving the animals traumatized. They are beaten, kicked, and treated cruelly by their handlers. Some even die.

Rescue the ones that stayed behind
Four or five babies were offloaded due to their health. ZNSPCA is waiting to get access to Zimparks and see what their status is. They’re hoping to rescues these baby elephants, together with HSI/Africa.

Baby elephants at Hwange National Park, video: Humane Society International

The organizations mentioned in this article are working hard to help animals. Click on the links to see how you can help.
Humane Society International/Afric
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Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal

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